Monthly Archives: March 2007

Politics and Alcohol

True story: on Friday I was standing in my friend Ed’s garden, hungover, watching him throw up a hastily consumed Pot Noodle (and noticing that, disgustingly, it looked the same coming out as it going in). On Saturday, almost exactly twenty four hours later, I was at a conference on East Asian relations in Leeds, listening to some very complex presentation on aspects of regionalism in East Asia. Yep, this is my life: a series of events so bizarre I’ve basically given up on any causal relation.

I went to Leicester to attend Ed’s goodbye party, before he goes to Germany to study for a term. A few drinks in the union bar, and then a long walk to a club in the city, we rocked out to various rock’n’roll hits from the 60s. After the antics of Thursday night, the Friday was pretty sedate, mostly spent at Ed’s house chilling out (and watching him fight a losing battle with instant noodle snacks). The day after, I was back at Leeds for the conference, which featured a few lecurers from my department, as well as visiting experts. The whole thing was very interesting, and finished off with a good question-and-answer session which prompted some fairly in-depth discussion among the guests. I hope I get another weekend combining intellectualism and inebriation soon enough.


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Respecting refugees, parading puppets, and a filmic Faversham

Today I went down to the Union to help out at the stall for the Leeds Uni Amnesty group‘s latest campaign, run with the Leeds Student Action for Refugees group. We were campaigning against the destitution of asylum seekers as part of government policy (for more info, see here), and did a pretty good job of getting signatures for the petition, selling cakes to raise money for a local asylum seeker support group, and raising awareness. Some of the artier members of the AI group had made custom designed T-shirts and giant puppets to attract attention, and at one point I put on one of the puppets. While I thought it added a certain something to my outfit, its tendency to list to one side put terrible strain on my back. Still, it’s not about me, is it?

During my stint on the stall, a guy came by who said he was going to be arguing for the motion “Should Britain close its borders?” at the debate on Thursday (also part of the events) and wanted to know if we could tell him how migrants enriched the country. I nicknamed him “Private Joker” because he was an enlistee in the military jacket fad that has swept the country, and because his views were pretty laughable. After he told me that Wikipedia didn’t have an answer to his question (Zounds!), I asked him if he got all his political positions from Wikipedia. His answer was an admirably honest “yes”. All in all, it’s a pity I’ll be out of Leeds on Thursday. Seeing him in the debate would be … interesting, to say the least.

In the evening there was an screening at a relaxed watering hole just off campus of Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things. If you haven’t seen it, you should – it’s great as a thriller, a love story, and an exploration of a side of modern Western societies that doesn’t usually get seen.

And on the way home, a giant rat scampered across my path. Bit of an incongruous ending, but there you go.

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Filed under amnesty, friends, university